The Contemporary Art Gallery presents an ambitious new neon commission across our building façade with PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, as part of a larger partnership of presentations, performances and events with British artist Tim Etchells. Arguably best known for his work with Forced Entertainment, Etchells has developed his own practice as an artist outside of their ground-breaking performances, with diverse solo work moving from a base in performance into visual art and fiction. Through writing, producing neon, video and text, collaborations with the photographer Hugo Glendinning on photographic work, and performance projects with an ever-expanding group of artists from around the world, including Franko B and Vlatka Horvat, Etchells opens up new possibilities to approach related ideas via different routes by working across these different media and contexts.
In all aspects of his practice Etchells is often concerned with live-ness and presence, with the unfolding of events in time and place. The site where things happen could be an LCD monitor or a computer screen, a stage, the space of a page, a gallery, a found location, a street, or some private space — a room or a car for instance — in which a person might listen to the radio or read a text. Who Knows is typical of Etchells’ approach in that something happens—there is an encounter, a process, the unfolding of an event and its implications, and an exploration of the dynamic relationship between the work and the viewer. Who Knows reveals a fascination with rules and systems in language and in culture, in the way these structures are both productive and constraining. Individual phrases of “I know,” “You know,” “We know,” “They know,” produces a playfully paranoid flavour, yet a tone that takes on something of the surveillance, snooping, watching topic, that’s even more on our minds since the information leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden in May of last year. Through the repetition of phrases, the text stages or implies an event or an idea that is at once unravelled and assembled. The mechanisms and economies of this process — of exposure and concealment, construction and deconstruction, appearance and disappearance — are at the heart of what Etchells does.
Presented in partnership with PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, Vancouver.
Born in 1962, Tim Etchells is based in Sheffield and London, UK and is the artistic director of Forced Entertainment, a theatre company founded in 1984. With Forced Entertainment he has directed, written, and occasionally performed in, dozens of critically acclaimed performance works that have been shown at major festivals and theatres around the world. Recent solo exhibitions include Sketch and Butchers (both London); Netherlands Media Art Institute and de Appel, Amsterdam; Void Spaces, Site Gallery, Sheffield; Sparwasser HQ, Berlin; Art Sheffield 08; ArtFutures, Bloomberg SPACE, London; Exit Art, New York; Kunsthaus Graz, Vienna; Manifesta 7, Rovereto, Italy; Acts of Voicing, Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart; Aichi Triennale, Aichi Arts Center, Nagoya, Japan; and Lonely at the Top: Modern Dialect, MuHKA, Antwerp. Etchells co-curated and commissioned work in the Performing Sculpture section of the DLA Piper series This is Sculpture at Tate Liverpool and took part in the Gothenburg International Biennale What a Wonderful World; After Architecture, CASM, Arts Santa Mònica, Barcelona; and The Malady of Writing, MACBA, Barcelona. His books include a critical exploration of contemporary performance and theatre as well as an introduction to his work with Forced Entertainment titled Certain Fragments (Routledge, 1999); a book of short stories, Endland Stories (Pulp Books, 1998); an ironic dream dictionary, The Dream Dictionary for the Modern Dreamer (Duckworth, 2004); and a novel titled The Broken World (Windmill, 2009).